Staff at Maggie’s Centre in Dundee are dealing with as many newly-diagnosed cancer patients as they did before Covid-19 struck.
Although the doors to the centre, situated in the grounds of Ninewells Hospital, have opened, the team are very much focused on helping people make those “daunting” first steps back into community-life.
In March, all support services were moved online and via telephone calls to stop the virus spreading to vulnerable cancer patients.
Karen Mackinnon, acting head at the centre, said: “Lockdown was difficult for people with cancer because they were not able to physically come into the centre.
“But most of our programmes went online and those have been well attended, especially our mindfulness classes and our shielding support group.
“It has been a challenge and I don’t know if we will be able to welcome our groups back into the centre this year.
“But from the middle of June our centre was opened up for booked appointments and drop ins from people who were at the hospital.”
She added: “It has been extremely busy because we have had lots of new people newly diagnosed with cancer – that has not changed for us.
“People still get unwell during lockdown.
“We are seeing the same amount of new people this year as we did last year, it’s just this time we are doing it virtually.
“But now we are delighted to welcome people back but we have to be very cautious and stick to the important guidance we are being given.”
One of the tasks for the staff at Maggie’s now is to help support those who have been shielding to get back out into the community.
Karen said for many, these first steps can be daunting and difficult.
“We want to be there for people who have been shielding and have not been able to go out,” she said.
“We are seeing people very cautiously take steps to come back out into the community, but that can be a huge challenge for those who have been shielding to mentally feel able to do that.
“Many feel apprehensive about those first steps, and for going back to their jobs.
“It can be a struggle for them.
“Our psychologist is helping people to come back when they feel the time is right.
“And because this is a challenge, our shielding support group will continue even though people are not necessarily having to shield anymore.”
For more information on the support Maggie’s offers, visit the centre’s website.